Pandemic Era Shines New Light On Realtor Value And Commitment

Written by Posted On Friday, 07 August 2020 05:00

In the not too long ago or far away, as once-guarded real estate data made its way online and consumers began to use the internet to search for homes and real estate advice, pundits suggested that real estate agents might be sidelined by technology as some unwary travel agents had been. 

The difference, of course, is that consumers who are able to pull the trigger on purchasing an air reservation are seldom able to fly solo in buying and closing on a home - and rarely has that point been more crucial or valued than in today’s pandemic environment. 

“As changing needs have driven buyer demand, a trifecta of low interest rates, tight inventory, and increased competition are making agents more innovative and relevant than ever,” said Jim D’Amico, CEO, Century 21 North East, Danvers, Mass. “In the midst of a market frenzy, and with health concerns a priority, agents have more than stepped up to the challenge, managing strict safety protocols, virtual or socially distanced home showings, and strategic guidance to buyers and sellers when they need it most.”

Anxious buyer and sellers, he said, know they need a skilled and dedicated agent to help give them a competitive edge and guide them through a sometimes chaotic bidding process.

“And the agent’s work doesn’t end there,” said D’Amico. “In a market beset with worker delays, material shortages, and a host of other uncertainties, it takes persistence and a pocketful of dependable resources to be sure that permits are pulled, repairs are made, and appraisals and inspections are completed in time for a timely closing.”

Rarely have agent-client relationships been more important and rewarding.

“Our company was built 100 percent on nurturing client relationships, and our agents are without question seeing the benefit today,” said Christy Budnick, president, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Network Realty, serving Jacksonville and northeast Florida. “Not only are we successfully helping buyers, but for the first time all year, we saw listings increase by 15 percent in July.”

That’s because, Budnick said, “sellers are realizing the real opportunities of selling in today’s market, and they trust our agents to ensure their safety throughout the process”

With houses, especially in the median price range, “selling like hotcakes,” observed Joe Clement, broker/owner, Re/Max Properties, Colorado Springs, Colo., agents are actively involved in every aspect of the transaction.

“The FSBO’s (for sale by owners) have gone away,” he said. “Sellers realize the tremendous amount of time, effort and care that is required for every transaction, beginning with strategic pricing.”

Even after contracts are signed, Clement noted, agents are overseeing the timeline to ensure that safe and timely inspections and appraisals are done, that any repairs or contingencies are met, that paperwork and wire transfers are completed in time for scheduled closings.

“We had one deal kicked to the curb today,” he said, “because it was subject to the closing of the buyer’s home sale in another state, which didn’t happen in time. That is one of the few things that is beyond our agent’s control, but it points up just how much the agent does take responsibility for in every single transaction.”

With the global pandemic literally and figuratively shutting down real estate sales in the first quarter of the year, few could have predicted the spring and summer upsurge that would follow as homebound Americans re-evaluated priorities and found their living space wanting.

“In the midst of this very robust year, agents are working at top capacity just to keep up with demand,” said D’Amico. “They are using their own awareness and every resource they can muster, first because buyers depend on them for competitive market insight, and second because the transaction process is often more complex to facilitate.”

It is gratifying, said Budnick, to be working in an industry that is a bright spot in the American economy - and difficult to foresee what’s ahead.

“Nobody has a crystal ball,” she said. “Unemployment rates, pressure on renters, the election, interest rates though 2021 - these are a few of the many pieces that will factor into real estate. But all things considered, I think it’s safe to say that committed and innovative agents will be valued and sought after for as long as they want to work.” 

Clement, too, has concerns.

“High unemployment sustained for too long could spiral into a market downturn,” he said. 

But if there is anything positive about this global pandemic, it is that kindness is also on the rise. 

“Real estate agents were among the first, when the great American shutdown began,” Clement noted, “to reach out to everyone they knew to see if they needed help. It’s in our nature. We are people-people - and we know we are here to stay.” 

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Barbara Pronin

Barbara Pronin is an award-winning writer based in Orange County, Calif. A former news editor with more than 30 years of experience in journalism and corporate communications, she has specialized in real estate topics for over a decade. She is also the author of three mystery novels and two non-fiction books.

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